Monday, April 04, 2011

Hesitation Blues #4 - LA Record

Here’s some good news on the local jazz front: It looks like the Jazz Bakery will be getting a permanent home after all. Thanks to the persistence of local jazz doyenne, Ruth Price, the Bakery will be returning to Culver City next year with help from a $2 million Annenberg grant. In the meantime they’ll continue to host shows around town including a spoken word event with Luis Alfaro and pianist Bill Cunliffe on March 24th at the Culver Events Center as well as presenting guitar legend Jim Hall at the Musicians Institute on March 26th – one of the most regal 80 year old, 6-stringers still touring the globe. Over at Catalina’s jazz club dashiki-clad sax master Pharaoh Sanders will be blasting his free-jazz fury March 17th through 20th - one of the few Coltrane disciples still stalking the stage. For something completely different on the same stage Kurt Elling will bring his pomade croon April 20th to the 22nd. There should be enough soul patches in the crowd to fill a hot tub. I hope the bartender makes a good martini.

On March 6th avant-conjurer Adam Rudolph will bring his Organic Orchestra to the Electric Lodge in Venice Beach. His ensemble will not only include woodwind icon Bennie Maupin (Bitches Brew, Headhunters) but also tow-headed son of skate-rat, Austin Peralta. Peralta’s recent Brainfeeder release Endless Planets rattles across jazz history with glimpses of 50s quartal harmonies, 60s free jazz and glistening 70s smoothness. His impeccable command of the 88 has been on display since he was pre-teenager. Now that he’s no longer a child prodigy Peralta has stepped up his game, bringing deliberate, jack-hammering piano without all the cheek-pinching novelty.

May 3rd will be the ten year anniversary of Billy Higgins’ passing. Higgins’ contribution to jazz drumming was immense (Ornette Coleman, Dexter Gordon, Charles Lloyd) but his contribution to Los Angeles is even greater. His Leimert Park club, the World Stage, still continues to host weekly jam sessions, a tradition that has provided a swinging center-point to one of the most culturally-rich blocks in Los Angeles for decades. On March 26th saxophonist Dale Fielder will bring his Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams homage to their cramped stage. Fielder, a local journeyman, has made it a personal mission to hip the world to the sounds of baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams – a challenging task but well worth the time.

Bill Frisell, ethereal guitar hero, will be playing in the dark to accompany a series of Buster Keaton shorts at UCLA on April 2nd. For some old school floor stomping the French Quarter’s own Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be walloping Royce Hall’s stage with tubas and crawfish on May 12th. Madeleine Peyroux, French chanteuse by way of Georgia and Brooklyn, will bring her hushed vocals to the Luckman Arts Complex on April 9th. Her Billie Holiday vocals combined with a fedora-sporting backing band make for an interesting show, deliberate and pure with torch-singer shades, minus the heroin and squalor.

Meanwhile down Orange County way Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard will present their own ensembles at Segerstrom Hall on April 3rd. Easily the most challenging of the Marsalis brothers plus Spike Lee’s go-to composer splitting stage time should be well worth the drive down to Costa Mesa.

LA Record Issue 103

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